Archive for September, 2007
This post has nothing to do with my usual blog theme, but I thought it well worth quoting from a recent Wall Street Journal article, via the Marketing Ladder newsletter. It’s about a professor at my daughter’s alma mater:
Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.
He motioned to them to sit down. "Make me earn it," he said.
They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture." This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted "Last Lecture Series," in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?
It can be an intriguing hour, watching healthy professors consider their demise and ruminate over subjects dear to them. At the University of Northern Iowa, instructor Penny O’Connor recently titled her lecture "Get Over Yourself." At Cornell, Ellis Hanson, who teaches a course titled "Desire," spoke about sex and technology.
At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch’s speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.
He began by showing his CT scans, revealing 10 tumors on his liver. But after that, he talked about living. If anyone expected him to be morose, he said, "I’m sorry to disappoint you." He then dropped to the floor and did one-handed pushups.
Clicking through photos of himself as a boy, he talked about his childhood dreams: to win giant stuffed animals at carnivals, to walk in zero gravity, to design Disney rides, to write a World Book entry. By adulthood, he had achieved each goal. As proof, he had students carry out all the huge stuffed animals he’d won in his life, which he gave to audience members. After all, he doesn’t need them anymore.
He paid tribute to his techie background. "I’ve experienced a deathbed conversion," he said, smiling. "I just bought a Macintosh." Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." After showing photos of his childhood bedroom, decorated with mathematical notations he’d drawn on the walls, he said: "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let ’em do it."
While displaying photos of his bosses and students over the years, he said that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving your own. He talked of requiring his students to create videogames without sex and violence. "You’d be surprised how many 19-year-old boys run out of ideas when you take those possibilities away," he said, but they all rose to the challenge.
He also saluted his parents, who let him make his childhood bedroom his domain, even if his wall etchings hurt the home’s resale value. He knew his mom was proud of him when he got his Ph.D, he said, despite how she’d introduce him: "This is my son. He’s a doctor, but not the kind who helps people."
He then spoke about his legacy. Considered one of the nation’s foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop "Alice," a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. It had one million downloads in the past year, and usage is expected to soar.
"Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don’t get to step foot in it," Dr. Pausch said. "That’s OK. I will live on in Alice."
Many people have given last speeches without realizing it. The day before he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke prophetically: "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place." He talked of how he had seen the Promised Land, even though "I may not get there with you."
Dr. Pausch’s lecture, in the same way, became a call to his colleagues and students to go on without him and do great things. But he was also addressing those closer to his heart.
Near the end of his talk, he had a cake brought out for his wife, whose birthday was the day before. As she cried and they embraced on stage, the audience sang "Happy Birthday," many wiping away their own tears.
Dr. Pausch’s speech was taped so his children, ages 5, 2 and 1, can watch it when they’re older. His last words in his last lecture were simple: "This was for my kids." Then those of us in the audience rose for one last standing ovation.
- The human mind treats a new idea the same way the body treats a strange protein; it rejects it.
- P. B. Medawar
British (Brazilian-born) anatomist (1915 – )
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According to the just released Deloitte’s study on Media & Entertainment practice, looking at how American consumers between 13 and 75 years of age are using media and technology today, Millennials (13-24) are leading the way, embracing new technologies, games, entertainment platforms, user-generated content and communication tools. Data from the survey show that user-generated content is in tremendous demand across the generations, with 51% of all consumers watching and/or reading content created by others
This leads David Weinberger on his Joho the Blog: to ask the fair question:
"Now that we’re in the majority, could you please stop calling us consumers?"
reported by James Fallows the Shanghai based Atlantic Monthly writer. The most surprising to me is this one about buying tickets online:
Buying tickets is easy – you can walk into the airport and pay in cash, or order online through a unique high-tech/low-tech process I’ll describe some other day.*
* OK, I’ll describe it now. C-Trip is a popular online booking service that covers most of China’s airlines and is faster and easier to use that most US sites. You choose your flight, push “buy now” – and two hours later, a courier shows up at your house or office to hand you your ticket and collect the exact-change fare, in cash.
Interesting. Looks like the Chinese version of an e-ticket is a "c-ticket" as in "courier"…….! I guess the booking fee collected by U.S. online travel agents eliminates this option.
provides us with a glimpse of what is coming down the pike and it sure sounds exciting. I’ve stated many times before that on the web “we ain’t seen nothing yet” and reading these ten trends confirms this. It’s going to be exciting to watch which existing companies will take advantage of these new innovations and introduce successful new services based on them and what new ventures are going to appear on the scene. Can only say, stay tuned!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I’ve been using Diigo for quite some time now to annotate, bookmark and share webpages. Now, they are offering a new functionality with the potential to become an even more effective tool to share knowledge in a great format as the video explains.
Imagine collecting all your different web pages to research a vacation or group trip, annotate them, add voice commentary and then share them with friends or participants. Also, a travel agent could put together a collection of information and send it on in an attractive form to a client.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
in this coverage in Modern Agent which then begs the question: “Why aren’t they and their members there?” offering innovative tools for the millions of visitors to Europe to share the wealth of their collective wisdom for future travelers rather than maintaining traditional, and in many cases outdated websites. I understand there is an effort underway to revamp the exisiting visiteurope.com site that was introduced only two years ago with great fanfare but apparently doesn’t cut it any longer.
It remains to be seen, whether the choice of web supplier will be able to get them a leading edge site this time around rather than play catch up like last time.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
is the title of a new Forrester Report that Travel Weekly’s Arnie Weismann comments on. If by “humanizing” the report means to say that the clock needs to be turned back to a pre-digital travel experience, it seems to me as a non-starter. Commodity products / services such as an airline seat can no longer be sold profitably that way. We might as well feel nostalgic about the black rotary phone!
In the much discussed area of complex travel, the human element in the form of an expert travel counsellor still plays a role and will also in future, using the digital tools available to the trade as well as the public. This added value will gladly be paid for by many travelers who mostly are time, not information, starved. As long as the digital experience to research, plan and book such travel is not improved, this is where the humanizing plays out.
Now, what will happen in this context, as the technology being developed for the next phase of the web as it evolves beyond 2.0 in the next five to ten years remains to be seen. With the advent of this semantic web, data will become more intelligent and online travel technology will become more than what today is still often the cumbersome melding of legacy systems with web 2.0 mashups and user generated content, all thrown in the mix.
Will this make for a more “humanized” experience? Probably not, but the digital experience will be so much improved that it might actually feel that way.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )